Sam sees improvement

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell can see a silver lining in his club's losing streak.

Heading into last night's game in Indianapolis against the Pacers, the Raptors had lost five games in a row.

But Mitchell said that he can see subtle improvements from his young players, positive things they do on the court that they didn't do earlier in the season, particularly on defence.

"They're still learning," he said. "They just have to learn how to finish games."

The Raptors have lost 11 games by three or fewer points this season, the most losses by that margin in the NBA. They are also 1-9 in overtime games.

CHARLIE WATCH

Rookie Charlie Villanueva has been getting plenty of kudos this year, but his inconsistent play also has been noticed around the league.

In his past five games, heading into last night's affair in Indianapolis, his scoring has bounced from one extreme to another.

Villanueva scored a career-high 48 against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 26 and 25 against the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets on April 2.

But he's also had three games of 14 points or under, including a four-point outing against the Phoenix Suns on March 31, although he was suffering from flu-like symptoms during parts of that stretch.

PETERSON STEPS UP

Morris Peterson has scored 27 or more points in each of the past four games and is averaging 31.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 47.41 minutes while shooting 50% from the field (46-92) from the field.

BONNER STILL PUMPED

Forward Matt Bonner celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday. Bonner, a proud Florida grad, still was pumped over the Gators victory in the NCAA championship on Monday. The Red Rocket talked to Florida head coach Billy Donovan for a brief time yesterday over the phone .


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